His 2-1 results in the two 450cc class races were a satisfying way to get his US nationals title defence back on track.
The Ironman National at Crawfordsville featured partly cloudy skies and moderate temperatures, resulting in the most competitive afternoon of the championship thus far.
After a thrilling battle in the 450 Class reigning three-time champion Tomac rebounded from the worst outing of his career one week ago to take his first overall victory of the season for Monster Energy Kawasaki race team.
In the 250 Class, GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin made it back-to-back wins to tighten up the early season title fight.
The opening 450 class moto saw a pair of familiar rivals out front early as Frenchman Marvin Musquin (KTM) secured the holeshot just ahead of Tomac, with point leader Zach Osborne (Husqvarna) in third.
The top three asserted themselves at the front of the pack, while the rookies of Adam Cianciarulo and Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton gave pursuit to build a close fight amongst the top five.
This group continued to trade momentum through the middle portion of the moto and at one point were collectively separated by just a handful of seconds. As the race wore on, the running order began to spread out, with Musquin and Tomac pulling away.
Behind them, Osborne made a costly misjudgement trying to pass a lapped rider, resulting in contact that forced the point leader off his bike. That allowed both Cianciarulo and Sexton to get by, while Osborne continued in fifth. He then almost crashed again a short time later, which caused him to lose fifth to Blake Baggett.
Musquin withstood one final push from Tomac to capture his first moto win since suffering a knee injury at this same track one year ago, taking the chequered flag by 2.2 seconds over the champ. Cianciarulo finished in third, just ahead of Sexton, while Baggett rounded out the top five. Osborne lost another position late to finish a season-worst seventh.
When the gate dropped on the second and deciding moto it was Osborne who prevailed to take the holeshot ahead of Cianciarulo, while Tomac and Musquin gave chase right behind them. Musquin and Tomac battled for third briefly, but Tomac got the upper hand to secure the position. With a clear track Osborne looked to pull away, but Cianciarulo responded to the torrid pace of the opening laps.
With Tomac closing in from third Cianciarulo put the pressure on Osborne for the lead and successfully made the pass stick, leaving Osborne to fight with the reigning champion. Meanwhile, Musquin lost additional ground after getting passed Justin Barcia for fourth.
The top four maintained their positions throughout the middle of the moto, but with 10 minutes remaining this group had closed in on one another and were separated by just a couple seconds. As they encountered lapped traffic Osborne was slowed, which allowed both Tomac and Barcia to get around and drop the point leader off the podium. The lead trio still sat within less than two seconds of one another and Tomac went on the attack, successfully taking the lead away from his team-mate. Barcia followed through into second, and then Osborne dropped Cianciarulo off the podium by moving up to third.
The closing stages of the moto turned into a compelling head-to-head battle between Tomac and Barcia, and while Barcia appeared to be faster in some areas of the track, Tomac excelled in different areas as well to keep the Yamaha at bay. In the end, Tomac charged to the finish line to take his first moto win of the season by 1.1 seconds over Barcia, while Osborne finished in a distant third.
By virtue of his 2-1 moto results Tomac was able to secure his 45th-career victory just one week after finishing a career-worst 16th overall.
The win puts him in sole possession of fourth on the all-time wins list.
Musquin finished in second (1-6), while Cianciarulo rounded out the overall podium in third (3-4). Osborne’s strong second moto helped him finish fifth overall (7-3).
“I just had a better feel [today]. The track came to us all day. We had good starts in both motos and that pace was insane there in Moto 2,” explained Tomac.
“I had pressure from Barcia for a while there and we were really pushing it at the end. He kept me honest, but I was able to keep it going and get us a win. We’ve got some good tracks for us coming up and hopefully we can keep putting work in to make up some ground in the championship.”
Osborne’s strong finish to the afternoon helped minimize the ground he lost in the championship standings. He now holds a 13-point lead over Musquin, while Barcia sits 26 points behind in third. Tomac vaulted from seventh to fourth, and now faces a 27-point deficit behind Osborne.
“The first moto was just really bad for me. I made some mistakes and it was just a mess, really,” said Osborne. “It was a disappointment, but we bounced back in the second moto. I didn’t have the pace to run up front with those guys, but still put in on the box and still have the red plate [as point leader]. We’ll look forward to RedBud.”
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RESULTS AND STANDINGS
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish):
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (2-1)
2 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (1-6)
3 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (3-4)
4 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (6-2)
5 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (7-3)
6 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (4-5)
7 Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (5-7)
8 Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna (8-8)
9 Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha (9-10)
10 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda (11-12)
450 Class Championship Standings:
1 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 122 Points
2 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 109 Points
3 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 96 Points
4 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 95 Points
5 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 89 Points
6 Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 81 Points
7 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 78 Points
8 Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Yamaha – 71 Points
9 Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Honda – 59 Points
10 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna – 58 Points
10 Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna – 58 Points
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish):
1 Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (2-1)
2 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (1-3)
3 Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., KTM (3-4)
4 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (8-2)
5 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (4-5)
6 Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (7-6)
7 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha (6-10)
8 Jo Shimoda, Japan, Honda (12-7)
9 Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki (11-8)
10 Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Honda (13-9)
250 Class Championship Standings:
1 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 135 Points
2 Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda – 131 Points
3 Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki – 100 Points
4 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Yamaha – 95 Points
5 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 90 Points
6 Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki – 79 Points
7 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 75 Points
8 Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 63 Points
9 Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., KTM – 61 Points
10 Mitchell Harrison, Brighton, Mich., Kawasaki – 61 Points